No idling dtw_workbook


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No idling dtw_workbook

  1. 1. 30 inspiring stories from those who “Do the Work” Inspired by the book from Steven Pressfield and The Domino Project
  2. 2. a brief note...No Idling is a free compilation: Use it, print it, and share it freely. Please don’t change or re-sell it.If you’re reading this before May 20th, 2011, you should know that the ebook version of Steven Pressfield’sDo the Work is still available for free download. Click here to get your copy.If you’re reading this after May 20th, we hope you’ll take a moment to pick up the hard copy of Do the Work.It will inspire and motivate you far more than we can here.We think you’ll love it. See you soon, The Domino Project Street Team
  3. 3. NO IDLING INTRODUCTION This manifesto is for all of you who want to do work that matters and are seeking a powerful tool for your Ship It arsenal. Steven Pressfield takes Resistance head on in his latest book Do the Work. This manifesto is helping readers take massive action and get their great work out into the world. As a thank you and tribute to Steven, members of The Domino Project Street Team came together to write, de- sign, and distribute No Idling in under two weeks. We hustled, reached out to the most brilliant do-ers we know, and did the work needed to ship an amazing ebook. Each of the contributors responded to our call for a very tight turnaround. After all, this is a book about doing the work. These authors over delivered. The result is the life-changing ebook in front of you. The action-takers in this book put a human face to the trite sounding clichés. Their stories of overcoming Resis- tance provide a path from “Just do it” to mentally gearing up and forming habits to help you get things done. They don’t mince words. “Expect Resistance,” they say. “It’s there. Waiting for you. Be smart. Prepare for it.” It’s our greatest hope that this ebook will inspire you to take on and overcome the biggest challenge of your life - you know which one. You will be better for taking it on. Along the way, you will grow your discipline and steel your character. The only way to fail is to stop. When you’re tempted, come back to Do The Work and No Idling to bolster your resolve. Remember that you took on your great work for a reason. Own it. We’re now calling on you to step up and work with us. Let’s turn the idea of overcoming Resistance into a move- ment of action. Dig into this book. Put its wisdom into action. Generously share it. Do the work. 1
  4. 4. ANDREW WARNERSometime in my early 20s I was standing outside a networking event atthe Puck Building in New York and wrestling with my insecurities.“Just go across the street and meet people,” I thought to myself. “Ev-eryone in there is running an internet company like you. You have a lot incommon with them. It’ll be easy to start conversations. Do it!”But, the other side of me thought, “you don’t know anyone in there. Andthey all know each other. You’ll end up standing around quietly whileeveryone else is having fun.”Eventually, someone might even say, “That’s Andrew? The guy who runsBradford & Reed? I didn’t realize he was such a dork. Ha. His companyalmost had me fooled. I thought it was impressive. Turns out it’s anothernothing operation, run by a nothing guy.”My insecurities won that day. I didn’t go in.Can you imagine how much of a failure I felt that day as I went home?I started a company because I wanted to build something huge; mean-while I couldn’t do a little thing like go to a party. Any five-year-old cango to a party, but I couldn’t.Years later that day still stung. Badly.My friends don’t know it, but one of the reasons I moved to LA was togive myself room to learn to break out of experiences like that. I wantedto live in a new city where I could practice meeting people every day,and not stop until I got comfortable being myself.The first thing I did was commit to a schedule of going out 6 nights aweek, no matter what. And when I went out, my personal rule was that Ihad to talk to at least 5 strangers.I screwed up a lot at first.I remember one time walking to a group of people at a party and saying,“How do you know Deb?”One of them said, “We’re friends of her roommate, Steve.” And he thenwent back to talking to the group. He didn’t include me in the conversa-tion and I didn’t know what to do next, so I just stood there awkwardly 2
  5. 5. as they all talked to each other. “I started a company because I wanted to build something huge,I felt like a fool. But I committed to talking to more people that night andto going out the next night and the next night and the next.Eventually I learned a few tactics that helped me get by. Like, don’t inter-rupt a group of people who are deep in conversation just to make smalltalk. meanwhile I couldn’t do a littleBut there was something bigger that changed more subtly: I just learnedto be more comfortable. Doing it every day, even on days I didn’t feel like thing like go to a, helped me become a natural at meeting people. Any five-year-old can go to aA couple of years after I moved to LA, I even hosted my own networkingevent. The night before the party, I became almost as nervous as I wason the day I stood weakly outside the Puck Building. But when I got tothe event, I eased up. All my practice made me feel more comfortable.I was in a room full of people and I could talk to every one of them. It felt party, but I couldn’t. Years latergreat.I thought about that recently when I started doing video interviews with that day still stung. Badly.”my heroes on Mixergy, my web site. The first time Seth Godin came on, Isaid to myself, “You’re not a reporter. You’re an entrepreneur. You didn’tknow the right questions to ask. The guy wrote about a dozen books.You didn’t read them all. You’re not prepared. You’re going to embarrassyourself and all of his fans will know you’re a dumb entrepreneur who gotlucky in business.”It’s true. I was pretty bad when I started. Very bad, actually. But I commit-ted to doing the work every day. Many people wondered why I insistedon posting a new interview every day, since it’s more than most of myaudience can keep up with.It’s because I learned that showing up every day and putting in the workcan turn my life around. Haven’t you seen that in your life too? 3
  6. 6. CHARLIE GILKEY It took seeing the man live to appreciate the fact that he had completely changed his life, all by shipping one musical thing a week for a year.2009 was a catalytic year for me. I attended my first SxSW, and, while the A few months after that, I learned about Michele Woodward’s use of thewhole thing was inspiring, it was seeing Jonathan Coulton perform live concept “expanding your comfort zone.” Rather than getting out of yourthat really changed me. I had known about his Thing A Week project for comfort zone, you should expand the things that you’re comfortablea few years, but never really thought much about his creative courage. doing. The more you work on expanding your comfort zone, the more things you can do without constantly battling fear and Resistance on their own terms. I put the two experiences together and made a point to do one thing a week that expanded my comfort zone. I knew I wouldn’t be able to commit to doing one type of thing per week - being a polymath can be a curse that way - but I knew that I could challenge myself to do one thing that pushed some creative or personal edge per week. What I found fascinating about the process was that a lot of my things had nothing to do with shipping something. Sure, creating something that challenged me counted, but there were other activities that counted just as much. Initiating a conversation with someone I admired. Pitching an idea to someone who wasn’t already part of my friend set. Saying No to an otherwise great opportunity that wasn’t right for me or my business. Co-creating a retreat for entrepreneurs that zigs when everyone else is zagging. Doing my own Thing A Week adventure reinforced what I had already learned from being an Army veteran: fear and Resistance only keep you from doing things if you let them. Great work doesn’t get done in the absence of fear and Resistance, but, rather, it gets done by accepting the fear and Resistance and doing it anyway. Once you understand that, you can see that fear and Resistance are often the signpost to guide you to what you should do. Just in case you’re wondering, fear and Resistance never really go away. You just become a bit desensitized to the fear and Resistance goes more guerrilla. But the same process works, whether you’re gripped by fear and Resistance or whether they’re lurking in the shadows: do something every week that expands your comfort zone. What’s your Thing this week? It’s waiting on you to do it. 4
  7. 7. STEVE GORDON Jr.I am what’s known in recent years as a “creative.” It’s a bit of a nebulousterm encompassing designers and artists because the world—profes-sional or otherwise—doesn’t really know where to put us. Are we viablebusiness and marketing professionals, or people who are only good forgrown-up versions of coloring book activities? But that’s no far stretch forme to understand. I’ve been that guy my whole life. I’m the little boy wholoved school and learning all the while being ostracized by those whosaw intelligence as a negative. I’m a kid from the bad neighborhood whogot shipped off to the wealthy prep school for a chance at a better life,only to find that that life didn’t necessarily want me there. I’m the world-class jock who dared to be smart, or conversely the smart kid who hadthe audacity to love and see the importance of excelling in athletics. Yeah,that’s still me; Steve Gordon Jr.I grew up in a lower-middle-class household, in the “bad” neighborhoodin town, chock full of all of the stereotypical trappings and pitfalls, so I’mnot even going to reference that. Everyone has their walls to scale, hills toclimb and hurdles to leap. We’ve all faced struggles that would seem tobe the end of us, times in life when we literally fall on bended knee, cer-tain that we have no more to give. The facing of hard times and overcom-ing is relative. But I’ve had it taught to me that the strength, the dignity,the integrity and the success of it all is in the attempt. You don’t have tobe better than everyone else. Truth is you may not be. But the “trying” isnoble. It’s not really important to lay out how I’ve struggled because I’mnot so sure that helps anyone else. It only causes our human intellectto draw immediate comparisons. The important ideal is to highlight themindset of one who will not limit themselves to a finite number of at-tempts at crossing the divide keeping them from their goals. So instead,I offer what I call my “transfer methods”; how I best get from point A topoint B—”A” being where I find myself at the inception of new endeavorsand “B” being the end-goal or point at which I establish a new “A.”Find Your LevelThere’s a saying that says “water seeks its own level,” which—in veryshort—speaks to balance and adaptation. If indeed we are all uniquecreatures, then we are meant for situations that will unfold to be uniquefor each of us, even given similar situational set ups. Be brave, be con-stant, be steady and find the best fit for “self.” From there, so many thingswill present themselves.Foresight & FlexibilityAnticipation and flexibility of mind is the key for me. The ability to not onlythink fast, but adapt faster. The skill of shifting your thoughts and refocus- 5
  8. 8. ing regularly is an amazing tool to have in the hip pocket. Be a Positive Opportunist People are always asking when it will be their chance, but in my estima- tion we let opportunities pass almost daily, out of lack of preparedness or not having the curiosity to check every door or the fortitude to take the leap. And say what you will about the term “opportunist” but the root of the word is “opportunity.” What is a person who looks for—better yet, yearns for the chance that will offer a window to success if not oppor- tunistic? The truth is there can—and must—be a positive spin on the idea of being prepared to be prepared. Ready yourself for the feeling of what it’s like to be ready to take every chance worth taking. Simply being prepared is only half of the work. You have to then be primed to act upon your preparedness. What good is setting your sights on a goal, only to pull back when opportunity presents itself? Guard Your Grill You have to be willing to fight for what your life is worth, tooth and nail. Swing until you’re in tears and you can’t lift your arms. When you feel that, you’ve tapped into your belief in yourself and what you truly want because there is nothing in the human condition quite like being so moved to fight for survival. “Earn Your Sleep” Lastly, a notion that I’ve developed over the course of my short life, and only recently given a name, is the idea of “Earning Your Sleep”. Placing a premium on your time, resting only when you have exhausted the possi- bilities for that day, not because a clock suggested you shut your eyes.6
  9. 9. MARK SILVER Don’t Look Left or Right Today, this is due, and I have a head cold. I spent the entire morning tak- ing one of my sons to the doctor with the croup. It’s early afternoon, I’m exhausted, I’m worn thin. Do I ship or do I rest? When the guidance isn’t clear, I don’t follow it. So I stop. I take refuge in my heart, accessing compassion and love for myself in this. What’s true here? Our culture has two forces aiding the devil of resistance. On one side is escapist fantasy, seducing us with all kinds of ways to numb out and avoid our true work. On the other side is the workaholic treadmill, push- ing us on to produce ever-more ever-faster. By judiciously using first one, then the other, the devil can tie us in knots, trap us in useless busy work, and exhaust us. Rather than slugging it out with Resistance, I take some minutes to rest into my heart, to take refuge in compassion and love. I can feel the anxi- ety ebb away. I can feel the truth of my situation arise. I can taste com- passion in my heart for how I’m feeling. In order to get the work done I don’t have a battle to fight. Yet, I do have a struggle. To the left is heedless unconsciousness, lost in the world of fantasy. To the right, busy work, overwork, exhaustion, illness, but with nothing to show for it. I struggle every day to choose the middle way and rest into the strength and love that carries me through the work that is to be done, and that sets aside the work that doesn’t need to be done, at least not now. Don’t look left or right. Choose love. Do the work.7
  10. 10. JIM BOUCHARDThink Like a BlackbeltWhen I do a speaking event I’m usually introduced with:“Martial arts transformed Jim’s self-perception from former drug abuserand failure to successful entrepreneur and Black Belt…”That’s true, but before I started on the business of transforming my self-perception, I had to stop tearing down the path that by rights should haveput me in jail- or in my grave. Today people often ask me, “What was theturning point in your life?”Turning points are usually only obvious in retrospect. Looking back, Iremember two important moments. The first was a cold winter morning in Maine. I had no money for heating fuel; though somehow had enough for dope. I got up for my morning piss only to find that I had to knock the ice out of my toilet before I could flush. When I turned from that business I was literally looking into my bathroom mirror; I did not like what I saw. A few months later I smoked a joint that was, without my knowledge, laced with “angel dust.” After a night of various creative attempts to de- stroy myself, I woke the next morning and decided enough was enough. That was the very moment I quit drugs. About 3 years later I was walking up the main drag in my city. I saw a gi- gantic vertical sign that read “K-A-R-A-T-E.” Later I would realize that this was the beginning of my real transformation. I learned that a happy and successful life is a product of discipline, focus, confidence, courage and perseverance. I began to learn that “perfection is not a destination; it’s a never-ending process.” I learned how to think like a Black Belt- and eventually I became one. Now I look forward to the possibility of transformation every day! 8
  11. 11. ARNE VAN OOSTEROMI RefuseI remember it well, as a child, 11 year old, entering a supermarket with mymother. She needs a coin for the shopping-cart and hands me a moneybill. She expects me to go up to the lady behind the counter to ask forchange. My mother looks at me. I look at the lady behind the counter. Ifreeze. I can’t do it. I’m simply too scared. I don’t leave my mother’s side.Why? Did I think she was going to yell at me? Laugh at me? Turn into agreen slimy monster and bite my head off? No. Up to this day I can’t re-ally understand what it is that scared me back then. But I do know I havehad many such moments. And I still do. Not a week goes by withouthaving this fear.It’s a fear of performing, showing myself, in front of others. A fear to fail. Afear so bad I’d rather fail by not even trying to succeed.I gave up on a running match a few meters before the finish, pretend-ing to be too tired. I refused to be in family pictures. I refused to act in aschool play, and made a fool of myself. I refused to go up to strangersat dinner parties when I bitterly wanted to be able to network. I refusedto learn how to read music, and study, but wanted to be a musician. Irefused to start schools and I refused to finish schools. I refused to be awriter using my dyslexia as a great excuse, my favorite tool to strengthenmy reasoning for refusal.Sometimes I think that I refused to start or finish so many times that finallyI could only refuse refusal itself.And then I let go. Lost the weight that was holding me down and liftedoff. I’ve been a musician and had a comedy act. I present concepts andstrategies to deadly serious looking board of directors. I give keynotes atinternational conferences, work and teach at schools around the world,write and give life to many networks.What changed? I simply started refusing to pretend I am not scared. I re-fuse pretending to know everything. I refuse to pretend I don’t need help.I refuse to pretend to be stronger than I am. And that changes everything.Being vulnerable made me strong.But I am still scared to death by everything I do. 9
  12. 12. MICHAEL PORT Don’t Give Up Looking back on my life, there isn’t much I regret. I live by the saying, “The measure of a man is not how well he starts, but how well he fin- ishes.” But, there is one thing I regret -- not finishing my acting career. I threw up my hands and quit. I was so close. I was right on the cusp of big time success… and I quit. In 1997, I was a 20-something earning a living as an actor. That put me in the top 1% of the Screen Actors Guild. I put everything into my acting career. I attended one of the best graduate schools in the country. I had a great agent. I was guest starring roles on most of the TV shows you know. Nonetheless, I quit. I couldn’t take the rejection. I didn’t like waiting around or leaving my future in the hands of others. So, I gave up and quit. I remember the day I told my agent. I heard a thunk (quite literally) when her jaw hit the floor. She knew how close I was. I was right at the cusp of going from working actor to big time actor. But I didn’t finish what I started. “You may feel stalled, waiting and I tell you this story – and, it’s not one I often tell – because I don’t want you to look back on your life and have a shred of regret. I don’t want youjust hoping for your big break to to quit - whatever it is you’re doing - unless you have a more important dream. Then quit the worthless thing and pursue the worthwhile thing.come. The economy is contracted. It takes far more fortitude to finish something than it does to start it. Now, it’s likely you are feeling pressure in the business you started. YouLots of people are starting to feel may feel stalled, waiting and just hoping for your big break to come. The economy is contracted. Lots of people are starting to feel tired. But, wetired. But, we cannot quit. cannot quit. We will not give up. Sure, you might say, it’s easier for me because I’ve been doing this forWe will not give up.” some time and have a “brand” name in my field. But I, too, am working harder than I ever have before to find new way to innovate, build the busi- ness, extend my brand and be of service to you. I want to help you do the same. 10
  13. 13. You’ve heard that frightening statistic out there that more than 80% ofsmall businesses fail within the first 5 years. It’s true. However, the com-mon perception is that these businesses fail because the marketplaceis so competitive and success is like a blip over the horizon. But, I see itdifferently.I think 80% of business owners fail in the first 5 years because theyhaven’t made a non-reversible, do-whatever-it-takes, no-holds-barred,beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt, absolutely-no-going-back, stick-to-it-like-super-glue commitment to finishing what they start to make their busi-ness work.Think bigger about what you want to start and finish in the world. Carryon. Get more clients. Make all the money you desire and deserve. I knowyou can do it. But, you’ve got to make a non-reversible commitment toyourself, your family and your business, right now. 11
  14. 14. word for me in many ways), I faced the greatest test of my endurance yet, a 3,063-mile run from San Francisco to New York City. At 57 years old, I would attempt to break the world record, set in 1980 by a man half my age. I’d been thinking about it for more than a decade, the ultimate ultra. Why did I even think I could do it? Part was pure desire, and part was experience. The ultrarunning had provided a strong base for me to pur- sue other endurance sports, like adventure racing (a less luxurious ver- sion of what folks did on “Survivor”), which I took up in my 40s, and mountaineering. In my early fifties, I climbed Mount Everest, summitting on my first attempt. If anything, my athletic pursuits show that the only limits are in the mind, and excuses like “I’m too old” and “it’s too hard” don’t have to stop you from attempting what other people may think is improbable, impractical, or even impossible. So of course I’d dismissed the idea that I was too old to make an attempt on this transcontinental record. My experience would be a mental advantage. Though this would be the hardest thing I’d ever done -- amounting to more than two marathons, back to back, every day for at least a month and a half -- I felt sure I could do it. At least I knew that IMARSHALL ULRICH wanted to try.Closing the Distance And now I had a true partner. In 2003, I’d married a woman who’d cracked through that old, hard shell and taught me to love again. HeatherIn my early thirties, when my eldest daughter was a year old, my wife was promised to be by my side as I chased after this dream.diagnosed with breast cancer. And though Jean underwent a double-mastectomy and chemotherapy, she died less than a year later. Ultimately, her presence is what helped me summon the will to run on when I was emptied out, to put one foot in front of the other even thoughThis was the blow that sent me running faster and longer than ever, I was suffering from multiple injuries and unprecedented fatigue. She’dpushing me beyond the marathon into ultra distances. The contests be- cup my face in her hands and tell me everything was going to be all right.came more and more grueling: 50-milers, then 100-milers, then 24-hour She never lost faith in me, even when I’d lost faith in myself.races and eventually multiday contests. I ran to deal with my grief andsurvivor’s guilt, to punish and prove myself, to search for ... something. I I realize now that the reason I was able to complete this ordeal in 2008didn’t know what. has less to do with my tolerance for pain than with my eventual accep- tance of myself as vulnerable and needing help from others. It resultedAs it turned out, I had a natural talent for these extreme distances, and from being willing to close the distance, to reach outside of myself andI set records on some of the toughest courses. When other people tailed receive love again, not just from my wife but from family and friends whooff, I could hold steady. Seems I was physically built for the sport and came out to support me. Perhaps that “searching” is finally over. Theemotionally primed to take the pain. answer was right under foot: all I had to do was follow my heart.Many years and two failed marriages later (“distance” became a watch- 12
  15. 15. PAUL DURBAN When I first agreed to create a motion graphic video based on Seth Godin’s live Road Trip presentation in Chicago, my first thought was, “I’m not sure if this is possible. 70 minutes? That’s longer than many of the animated movies I rent for my children! And they have a TEAM of anima- tors!” The Resistance was in full force and I searched the Internet to prove it wrong. Surely, there must examples of lengthy motion graphic videos. I can’t be the only one ever charged with such a weighty task. And of course, the stories of such projects will be shared on myriad blogs. As the days of research passed, I came to realize that the project was one-of-a-kind. Did this make me crazy to accept such a challenge? Perhaps. Had others tried and failed before me? Probably. The average length of a motion graphics project I create for clients is one to two min- utes. Tackling this presentation would be the equivalent of 50 of them.The phrase, “Keep your friends If only I had some evidence that such a long and complicated project could be accomplished by one person. But the Internet was quiet. Myclose and your enemies closer” only company was The Resistance. And in a strange way, I wanted it around so I wouldn’t feel alone.was ringing in my ears. That’s it! The Resistance showed me how animating a live recording with all its natural pauses and inevitable audio glitches would be maddening. It explained that no sane person would have the patience to create such aInstead of me being a student long video much less watch it. The resistance provided all the necessary roadblocks that are common to anyone trying to accomplish something unique.of The Resistance, I’ll befriend As I approached minute 15 of the video, I was stumped. My tank wasit and become its teacher. I’ll empty. I was all out of ideas and I still had 55 minutes to go. The Resis- tance won. I couldn’t believe that I was stupid enough to think this could be done. Sometimes, you just have to admit defeat and learn from theshow The Resistance where it experience. But then I had an epiphany the next morning as I was just waking up. Thehas been mistaken. phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” was ringing in my ears. That’s it! Instead of me being a student of The Resistance, I’ll befriend it and become its teacher. I’ll show The Resistance where it has been mistaken. I showed The Resistance that editing the pauses and cleaning the irregu- 13
  16. 16. larities of the audio would destroy the dynamic of the live presentation. Itaught it that we all see things differently and that there was no wrong ap-proach to the animation. The Resistance wanted me to add multiple bellsand whistles so that the project would never be finished. But I explainedthat doing that would compete with the message.When animating, it’s not uncommon to spend an entire day on mere sec-onds of content. So it’s quite easy to begin questioning your process andyour sanity. Especially when the effect doesn’t quite work out as plannedand hours, if not days, of work are lost. But I showed The Resistance thatthe road was winding; sometimes you have to retrace your route, but ifyou stay on course, you’ll eventually get there.As the days went by, I noticed that The Resistance was listening morethan talking. There was a 20-minute period of the video that came sonaturally to me, I sincerely do not remember animating it. It seemed themore I did, the easier it got.Four months later, the video was finally complete. The smartest decision Imade was to not engage The Resistance in a long, daily battle. Instead, Ibecame the “expert” whose experience and creativity could not be chal-lenged.If I can create a 70-minute motion graphic video, can you even imagineThe Resistance putting up a fight with a mere one-minute version? Meneither. 14
  17. 17. WENDY TOWNLEYInspiration Rarely Arrives: Write NowReally? Has it already been a year?I glance toward my 2011 calendar and refocus my eyes to confirm. A tidypackage of 365 days and nights have passed since my first book, NerdyThirty, was published and made public to the world. It began with the hours, days,Where did the time go? How did it all happen? weeks, and months of anticipa-What is perhaps most worthy of examination is not the year since thebook became reality, but the year before the year. tion; the reality of having a bookThe pregnancy – if you will – of Nerdy Thirty. with my own name on the frontIt began with the hours, days, weeks, and months of anticipation; thereality of having a book with my own name on the front cover. For a whileI simmered and sizzled in the mirage of merely the end product, sans the cover. For a while I simmered andwork. I found myself daydreaming about cover art and typeface, aboutstatus updates and tweets, about media interviews and speaking gigs; sizzled in the mirage of merely the end product, sans the work.even, dare I say, the fancy orange dress I would wear to my very firstbook signing.Seriously, it was that bad.Silly me.And as silly as it may sound, what needed the most examination, effort,and determination was the work before the big party, before the celebra-tion I had so rightfully earned.The hours of writing and editing. The painstaking process of pouring overevery passage to ensure it was as perfect as possible.The work that, let’s be honest, is a very lonely and solitary effort.Writing is sometimes viewed as a mysterious yet glamorous trade. Muchlike artists, it is believed writers lie about, awaiting inspiration. And thenPoof!, inspiration arrives, and masterpieces follow.Inspiration and motivation, I quickly discovered in those early months ofthe writing and editing process, rarely arrive by surprise. Writing is work.It’s a calling and a craft, but it’s also a job. Writers must be disciplined 15
  18. 18. enough to set their own writing schedules, to sit down in front of theircomputers and write at the same time every single day, WHETHER THEYFEEL LIKE IT OR NOT.I can count on my left hand the times, during my ten-plus years as awriter, when I have experienced a bolt of inspiration and simply had tofind my computer and begin pouring out my thoughts. It just doesn’t hap-pen all that often … if ever, for some writers.Writers must cocoon themselves in the most private (or public) way pos-sible. They must identify the ideal environment for progress, whereverit may be. (To write and produce solid copy, I need the gentle chaos ofneighborhood coffeehouses. The noise and occasional distractions helpto move my words forward. The distractions at my home are too numer-ous to mention, too detrimental to my work.)Some writers may find glory and satisfaction when discussing a projectwhose completion has not arrived. Others enjoy keeping their lips zippeduntil the eleventh hour. I count myself in the company of the latter, want-ing to disguise the details until the day of publication is much closer. Isuppose it’s because I fear the questions of feedback may move me offtrack. Or perhaps it’s because I want to keep my words and ideas undermy own personal lock and key.Because in a very short time, the work is no longer yours. In a sense,once it is published, it belongs to everyone. 16
  19. 19. me up, but then backed down, fearful of a lawsuit we’d probably win, but that would cost us immense time and money. After a fire marshal from the state showed up and tried to shut down the paper for not hav- ing enough employees trained in CPR, or enough fire extinguishers, the message came through loud and clear – play along or play hardball. I was given an ultimatum – retract my story and allegations, or be fired. I refused to retract the story and instead organized a protest – drawing the support and attendance of a state representative and a crowd of 200 people from a population of 3,000. The crowd assembled in front of the newspaper with signs, chanting and protesting the environmentalist’s attack on the paper and supporting me, and my story. The protest gar- nered media attention across the state. Less than a week later I was fired. Two other employees quit in a show of solidarity. Someone suggested I start my own newspaper and pursue my writing and the investigation. With no job, no income and nothing but a home computer, I let people know I was interested in starting another newspaper if there was support for it.BECKY BLANTON Within the week citizens organized a yard sale and donated the pro- ceeds, $250, to me. It paid my first month’s rent at an office directlyResistance comes from inside and outside of us. Either way, tactics for across the street from my old paper. With Main Street only being twofighting it are much the same. blocks long, it was hard not to be within spitting distance of my old job. I moved out of my apartment and into the office where I had a small sinkAs a reporter for a small weekly in the high desert of Klickitat County, and toilet. I showered at a campground 20 minutes away and traded adWashington in 2000, I was assistant editor, reporter and photographer space for meals at the diner next door.for The Goldendale Sentinel. As soon as I started covering local politics,including attempts by a small environmental group that was suing for For the next four months I worked 100 hours a week putting out a weeklyenvironmental damages, but diverting their legal settlements to personal newspaper – The Klickitat County Monitor – one that provided both sidesbank accounts instead of the care of the land as they promised, the of the highly contentious stories and events between ranchers, Nativethreats and intimidation started. Americans on the nearby reservation, the Columbia River Gorge Commis- sion, and activists, but in a way that let readers make up their own mindsBig businesses may consider greasing the palms of activists and pro- about what was happening and what needed to happen. Where theretestors as part of the cost of doing business; but farmers and ranchers had once been empty auditoriums and no attendance at city and countydon’t. Out in the rural west the average family has lived in the county for meetings, the rooms were packed, often with standing room only. Citi-three or more generations, been raised on the 10 commandments, and zens were getting involved and it was changing the county.does business with a handshake with people they trust. They expectedtheir local newspaper to report the facts and the truth and not to bow But the intimidation and threats against me didn’t stop. I received bombdown to threats or intimidation. And for a long time that’s what they got. threats, was forced off of the road by a BLM (Bureau of Land Manage- ment) truck early one morning, and finally decided to get a RottweilerAfter reporting on the illegality of the group’s actions the environmental to keep the angry citizens from coming over the counter to beat me upgroup I’d been writing about threatened to sue the newspaper and my when the paper was too controversial for them.editor if I didn’t recant my story and publicly apologize. I stood by mystory. My facts were right and so was the story. My editor initially backed I was not only writing, doing layout and photography, but I was learning 17
  20. 20. how to run a business, and how to produce, distribute and promote a on as editor for another couple of months. At six months the paper hadnewspaper. For four months I scrambled for funding, sold ads, attended enough support and the county’s endorsement and became the firstrodeos, was chased by bulls, slept on a couch and bathed in a state park newspaper in the state of Washington to become a paper of legal recordcampground. But I persevered – driven by the desire to report the truth in 20 years – the first in 40 years to do so with less than $1 million inand to fight against fraud and deceit. The farmers and ranchers sup- funding. One woman, a home computer and a fire in the belly for justiceported me and more than once I had a rancher shuffle through the door, and truth is all it took.or stop by my table at the diner and press a $100 or $200 into my handfor an ad, or gas for the truck. My tips for fighting the Resistance?Within four months the subscription rate matched that of my two com- Know what your objective is and be intensely passionate about achievingpetitors – the old paper and one in a nearby town. I was distributing the it. You can’t beat the resistance if you aren’t wholeheartedly committed topaper myself once a week in 32 retail locations in two states – Washing- a goal.ton and Oregon. Month four I came down with pneumonia and decidedto sell the paper to protect my health. Local citizens bought it, kept me Don’t expect or depend upon others to support your passion. It’s great when they do, but mostly they won’t, or at least not in the way you’d always like. Accept what people have to offer, but rely on yourself. Make your own choices because you’re the one who is going to have to live with the consequences – not your coach, not your friends, not your family – YOU. Nike was right - Just do it. Most of the time it’s not going to be fun. It’s going to be hard to do it every day or even an hour of every day. Focus on one thing, one step, one objective at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. Take time to celebrate your milestones and accomplishments and remember there will be more to come if you stay focused and committed. 18
  21. 21. For me, it was the latter. Why wasn’t I excited? What was the problem? I realized that I didn’t want to be perceived as a business “expert” or “ad- vice guru” or whatever the catch-word of the day is. Instead, I wanted to continue down the path of being a broadcaster and interviewer. It is my passion and worth fighting for. I started my show The Rise To The Top in 2008 with my Bar Mitzvah money. I realized after some introspection and many conversations, that it was time for a change in business. A resistance induced shift. And so, I fought the resistance like hell. And released this on my website: Watch Out Piers Morgan and Charlie Rose: The Rise To The Top Is Mov- ing Beyond Business Interviews So, exciting news today. I’ve been keeping this under wraps for a little bit as there has been a bunch of behind-the-scenes organization. I have this saying: You are either changing and evolving, or you aren’t re- ally living. To me, life is about reinvention. The Rise To The Top is moving beyond business interviews and will now be focusing on a wide variety of interviews with interesting folks in a vari- ety of industries ranging from entertainment to sports (and there is a heck of a lineup on its way).DAVID SITEMAN GARLAND It was just that time and I couldn’t be more pumped to tell you about it. After 2.5 years of doing purely business interviews with great people, IIt wasn’t exactly one of those light-bulb moments. It was a bit slower and could feel it in my bones that it was time to evolve. Time for somethingmore confusing than that. new.My book, Smarter, Faster, Cheaper was selling well. I was getting booked Does this mean I’ll never again interview entrepreneurs or talk business?for speaking gigs. I was interviewing amazing entrepreneurs and business Not at all. My goal is to bring you interesting interviews with awesomeexperts on my Internet-based talk show. Business life should have been people and that is going to continue to happen in a HUGE way.good, right? For example you might be seeing interviews from:But there was a problem....I just wasn’t excited about it. There was somekind of resistance. The question became...what kind of resistance was it? -Best-selling non-business authors -ComediansWas it the type of resistance you just need to fight through? -Musicians -EntertainersResistance that meant it was time to give up? -Performers -AthletesOr perhaps resistance that causes change? -Artists in all types of fields 19
  22. 22. -Wresting superstars from the 80’s.…and more. MANY more.I’m shaking a bit as I write this. Not out of nervousness, but out of antici-pation. When I started The Rise To The Top in 2008, we had maybe fourviewers/listeners including Dad, Mom, Grandma and myself. Now, wellover 100,000+ are tuning in on computers, mobile phones, tablets, andeven TV’s (through Roku and Connected TV) which is extremely humblingand I’m excited to grow even further.Let the new era begin! None of this would be possible without you.-DavidThe lesson? Resistance might be the catalyst to change. Allow it. 20
  23. 23. JOHN ROOKS Doing More Than Promote As a career marketer and environmental activist I had trouble reconciling the two. Marketing was not Sustainability. I struggled with this cognitive dissonance. I searched for answers. Finally, I realized that no one was going to connect the two to my satisfaction. Most eco-marketing was pabulum for the masses. It was capitalism giving permission to itself to thrive and “be green” at the same time. I wanted marketing to be The Thing, not a representation of The Thing. Linguists before me and marketers around me said it could not be done. Language (verbal and icon) is all marketers have, but symbols are not things. Unless of course, we remove the symbols from the dialogue and make the act of sustainability the marketing, instead of marketing our acts of sustainability. So we launched More Than Promote, built an on-line community of com- petitors and giant brands who were interested in doing more than saying. We wrote a book that explained how to do it. We lecture to high schools and universities and at tradeshows teaching people how to do it. It starts with a pledge: “Wherever and whenever possible I will architect promotions that have corporate, civic and cultural value. I will engineer promotion that has intrinsic social value.” The theory said it could not be done. The practice showed otherwise.21
  24. 24. GEORGE GRAVES Lessons Learned Since graduating college, my focus has been entirely on finding a full-time design job. I had other goals, but a full-time job came first. Literally. For the better part of a year, I put life on hold while I looked for work. I wanted to become involved with AIGA Maine, to continue my education, and to meet letterpress printers. In the pursuit of society’s norm, I tossed these goals in a bin labeled “life” and hid them under my bed. As Creatives, our daily lives in and out of work are not easily separable. By trying to separate them, I trapped myself in a place of permanent transition without the tools to move forward. I told myself there would be time to pursue those things later, when all my ducks were sitting neatly in a row. I let my fear of failure, my desire for stability, and my rational mind prevent any progress. Instead of finding a balance, I put myself in a perpetual state of instability and waiting. Then something clicked. Instead of scouring the job-postings and ap- plying to companies who had never heard of me, I introduced myself to letterpress printers, to the AIGA Maine board members, and to others I admired. Rather than attempting to connect with companies, I began connecting with people. Real, live, human beings with hearts, souls, and connections of their own. We found common ground and we found ways to help each other. The connections I made in life started presenting me with opportunities for work. I stopped making excuses. I put aside my fears and rational theories, and I made that initial effort. I took one step in the direction I wanted to go and each further step has been easier. Because I took the tools avail- able to me and tackled the work, I received an offer for a job pursuing the work that I love the most. A job that my excuses had me believing I’d never have.Photo credit: Angela Klempner, 22
  25. 25. NEIL PASRICHA Getting to the light at the end of the tunnel My world was spinning in 2008. After finishing school in Boston and going on a cross-country road trip with my friends Chris and Ty, I moved to a dusty suburb to live with my brand new wife in my brand new life. Yes, we got married young, we got married quick, and after living on opposite sides of the border we were finally moving in to get busy living. So I slapped on a crisp, fresh shirt and started a new office job while try- ing to settle into a brand new town where I didn’t know anyone. My high school and college friends had long scattered like marbles so I was look- ing for a new place in a new world. Now, my wife had been teaching for years so she had a bit more going on. She’d coach baseball tournaments and I’d stroll around waving at old folks on their porches. She’d play volleyball and I’d eat cookies and flip past reruns. She’d watch Gray’s Anatomy with friends and I’d practice the fine art of taking long naps and playing video games.“I think I needed to remind my- I was feeling pretty lonely and whenever I flipped open a paper the news didn’t exactly cheer me up, either. Polar ice caps were melting, piratesself there were bright spots in the were storming the seas, wars were raging around the world, and the stock market was in a deep freeze.darkness. I think I needed a cold It seemed like everything outside my window was just bad and everything inside was a little … sad. Yes, although my wife and I had respect, trust, and admiration for each it was becoming clear after a few months that …breath away from the hot swirling something was missing. So one chilly Spring night in 2008, alone in our dark house, feeling cutclouds around me. I think I needed off from the buzzing world of bright lights outside, I went online and on a whim started up 1000 Awesome Things. I wrote about broccoflower toa place where I could smile at the kick things off. I think I needed to remind myself there were bright spots in the darkness.little things we all smile silently at I think I needed a cold breath away from the hot swirling clouds around me. I think I needed a place where I could smile at the little things we all smile silently at throughout our days.throughout our days.” Over time our nights at home grew a bit quieter, our dinners a bit shorter, and our laughs faded into polite smiles. While 2008 rolled on we kept liv- 23
  26. 26. For us, we just happened to be two different people walking two differ- ent paths. Sure, it was painful as painful can be, but we need to grieve, we need to let emotions overcome us, and we need to choose to walk towards those bright lights in the distance. Even if that walk seems pretty far away. So, come on: When bad news squeezes your lungs and the weight of the world pushes you underwater, let’s always try to catch our breath by focusing on the best things in life. Yes, let’s focus on hitting a string of green lights on our way home from work, getting free time on the parking meter, and flipping on the cold side of the pillow. Let’s focus on beautiful pick-me-ups like getting long hugs when we really need them, laughing hard with friends, or the last day of school. Let’s focus on all the magic moments, eye-twinkling memories, and small special touches that make every day so sweet and make every day worth living. Yes, life’s too short to swim in the deep forever so when it hurts remem- ber to focus on the end of that tunnel and let those lights guide you forward and forward and forward and forward and forward and forward and together but were growing further apart. She’d coach badminton andplay on her volleyball team and I’d stay at home writing for hours about AWESOME!nachos and gasoline.We kept trucking, kept slugging, kept soldiering on, until the rubber finallyhit the road one quiet night while we were sitting on the couch. Shelooked me straight in the eyes and through painful tears summoned thecourage to tell me she didn’t love me anymore.It was heartbreaking.Tears spilled all weekend and wet pillows, sweaty blankets, and head-spins came in waves. By Sunday night I blinked bleary-red eyes andsuddenly realized I didn’t have anything to write about except crying. Sothat’s what I did.When I look back on that post it reminds me of heavy times at the bottomof a dark well staring way, way up at the tiny pinprick of light at the top.But it also reminds me of the pure joy and relief of letting awesome thingscheer me up while I struggled to keep moving.I guess I’m addicted to letting thoughts of new bed sheets, fresh bakeryair, and wobbly couch cushion forts swirl in my head and lift my brain skyhigh. I love talking with all of you and reminding ourselves of the manyawesome things we all have to share. 24
  27. 27. JAYESH SACHDEVExhilaration of VictoryGrowing up in India, in a town trying hard to turn into a metropolitan city,in a middle class family, my father, an owner of a small sports shop, mymother a teacher, I had a very interesting upbringing. I was brought upwith deeply rooted values and principles, encouraged by my mother tothink on my own and be responsible for my actions and decisions, andon the other hand my father, more protected, old schooled, who wishedfor me to join his shop and sell hockey sticks to kids; and then therewas me, with larger than life aspirations and ambitions. I was a dreamer.I wanted to be a designer in a country and environment which had norespect for it.After several rejections to art school, I landed a job as a Graphic Artistat a Television Channel, facing rejection for close to a year, never havinga single design approved, I continued my quest for design school until Iwas finally admitted to one in Singapore at the age of 22. Financially andsocially outcast, I immersed myself into my art and design often doinghomework of my classmates to pay off my rents, often freeloading foodoff the near by Sikh Temple. I graduated with an impeccable record andmoved back to India to found my own studios, Emblem.Having been disconnected with the creative industry in India I had no inroads into the industry and clearly no work. I translated my depressioninto my passion for art and soon started painting, and was encouragedto exhibit my works. To my dismay, the pseudo art culture only acceptedrenowned artists with credible history or fine art schooling. Struggling tofind galleries I managed to open my own space in retaliation, allowingonly first time or new artists to showcase at my gallery, soon Emblembecame a national rage.Over the next 2 years, I went on to showcase often at my own studio/gallery and won national accolades for my works and soon began exhibit-ing world wide. Now I am a graphic designer, artist, photographer andfashion designer. I accept the challenges so that I can feel the exhilarationof victory. 25
  28. 28. ANISH KAPOOR“What’s success really when it comes to art? A nice table in a restau-rant? A better seat on a plane? People being nice to you in front of yourface? I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years and I admit I’ve beenambitious, but I have to say the real lesson I have gleaned, the one thatmatters to me, is this.” He gestures around his studio. “You can be aswell known as you want; you get the awards, the acclaim. But if it’s nothappening here, within the studio, with the work, then that’s that. Here iswhere it begins and ends. You have to remember that. Art is only whatyou create.” 26
  29. 29. my own business. As a studio owner, I had to manage the overhead of my own studio and find my own clients. I was a kid by today’s standards and really had very little understanding of marketing. How hard could it be? I asked myself. After all, I was a very good photographer, and once people saw my work I was bound to be a success. I was wrong. A little over a year later I had exhausted all my funds. While the business was growing every quarter, it wasn’t growing fast enough for me to make a living and pay the bills, including a small start-up loan I had secured from a local bank with the help of a co-signer. With no access to money I might invest in the business, it didn’t take long to realize I needed to learn how to sell myself and my business or I was going to be out of business! Friends and family were pressuring me to get a real job, and as much as I tried not to, I was starting to listen to them. I was already beating myself up for a whole host of reasons - not enough money, not enough experi- ence; maybe I wasn’t even that good a photographer. Call it fate, or call it luck, but I took a Civil Service Exam to become a fireman and placed first on the list. I hadn’t told anyone else, but the next opening for a fire fighter was mine. Or it would have been if a hiring freeze didn’t go into place shortly after my test results came back. I never did get that call to be a fire fighter, but I did get another call – a wakeup call to revisit how to sell. Without customers and with an exhausted business loan, I knew I couldn’t sit still and wait for people to find me. I had tried advertising be- fore, and while it got me some name recognition and the occasional new customer, I knew that it took too long to produce results. I needed to find something that would get people talking and at the same time wouldn’t cost much. Even better, I decided I needed to stir up word of mouth for my business. I decided to do some kind of community project that would showcase my photography. But, things were so tightBOB POOLE financially; I knew I had to get someone else to pay for it.Photographers working for newspapers and magazines back in the 70’s I looked at all the local newspaper and billboard advertisements and real-were like tourists at a buffet – they just showed up and were fed a steady ized the local banks seemed to spend the most money on of assignments. So as a young photojournalist, I rarely lacked for I took a good look at the ads from the largest bank (the same one thatan assignment or a paycheck. Editors consistently shoveled us work and handled my now exhausted business loan), and paid attention to whatthere wasn’t much idea selling involved or needed. After years of work they were advertising. I decided that I could create a promotion for themup and down the east coast, I decided to settle down and move into a that would be better than their current advertising. Yeah, I had big co-studio. So, at the ripe old age of 22, with all the confidence born of youth, jones.and the ignorance of all things business and marketing related, I started 27
  30. 30. had to learn to market or starve. Later on he and his son became very in- fluential in guiding more business my way–including that of his own bank. And, we’ve maintained that relationship for almost 40 years now. I gained more than business from the experience. Learning I enjoyed the creativity of marketing and sales helped me transition into full-time mar- keting and sales consulting. I found I enjoyed the creativity of marketing and more and more companies sought me out to help build their own businesses. My tips for fighting the Resistance? What looks like a brick wall may actually be a blank slate for you to create something on. Look at obstacles as clues to the solution. Share your story with anyone who will listen. They may hold a piece of the puzzle or be part of the solution. Whatever the problem, there’s always a solution, keep looking for it.The next week, I made an appointment with the president and outlined Persistence in finding solutions means going down avenues you haven’ta promotion that I called “Faces of the Tri-State Area.” (This bank was in tried – not just repeating things you have tried and failed with.Ohio, on the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia–hence the tri-statearea.) I told him how I would go into local businesses, steel mills, pot- You’re the one person who’s most invested in your dream – if you quitteries, schools, and churches–everywhere the bank’s customers lived, believing in it why should anyone else?worked and played–and that I would create vivid black & white portraitsof the people I found there. I’d then enlarge, mat and frame them, andwe’d hang the whole display in the bank’s main lobby.I also offered to write and design some print and radio ads for the bank tobring people in to see the gallery I told the bank VP that focus of the newpromotion would be “Customers are Our Most Important Asset.”He loved the idea and asked how much. I named a figure that, besidesthe photography, included building the gallery display and writing theadvertising copy. It was a large number for me at the time, but they wentwith it and the show was a hit! Having my name and business credited forthe photography and the show brought in many new customers, but thatwasn’t the best part of the project. I also got to make fantastic contactsat the local businesses where I did the photography, which led to morecommercial business.The chairman of the board of the local competing bank stopped me onthe street about a month later to compliment me on the promotion andask how it came about. I told him my story, including my realization that I 28
  31. 31. DONNA MCCARTHYSchooling SchoolResistance doesn’t always come from the outside, but too often fromwithin. The voices in your head that can either nurture you, spur you on,tell you how much you have to offer or pummel your spirit with dejection,and thoughts that create fear and deter you from not only success butattempting anything where the end result might be failure.I have experienced an ongoing battle between the two for as long as Ican remember. And in retrospect it is easy to see how much the battle ofthe brain kept me from reaching my potential in many instances. Runningthis particular gauntlet has been the biggest challenge of my life.Slowly, but steadily I have learned to conquer the negative voices andrecognize what I thought to be circumstances beyond my control as ex-cuses. I have never considered myself a leader. I have always seen myselfas a good “team player” - one who would offer innovative and creativeideas that sometimes would be recognized with a smile and a nod butrarely implemented. I learned during my career as an educator that main-taining the status quo became the rule and with all the complaining of lowachievement few educators are willing to change, innovate, re-evaluate,re-invent. Few educators are willing to destroy and rebuild. Its simply toohard.Teaching is a good match for me. I have taught every age from pre schoolto older adults. I have been teaching high school for the last 12 years. Inmy own classroom I can innovate, inspire and direct my curriculum andguide my students. The greatest joy it brings me is to help young peoplereach a potential that many had no idea lay within. I would never claim tobe a perfect teacher but I know I am effective and I know I have a gift ofcommunicating, inspiring and nurturing the gifts of others. This is rec-ognized by colleagues yet they seem satisfied with achievements beingisolated to just a few classrooms and lack the vision to create a schoolwhere exceptional teaching is the rule rather than the exception.One day in my third year of my fifth school and 19th year of teaching Irealized this school would be just like all the others. A voice in my headprompted me to open my own school. How much longer would I allowmyself to be placated before realizing that I can do what I do on a largerscale? I realized that I could create effective change and offer my com-munity something it greatly needed – a school that attracts teachers likemyself – one that is innovative in its approach to curriculum and instruc-tion and doesn’t just attach the phrase ‘continual improvement’ to every 29
  32. 32. thing, but practices it.Two years ago when this venture began I knew next to nothing aboutstarting a charter school, writing a business plan and any number of de-tails that go into planning a school. If I had made a list of all that I didn’tknow I never would have begun. What I realized was that I do possessa passion for education, an immense desire to create positive changefor others, and the ability to acquire and apply knowledge that I need tomake something happen. To quote Seth Godin, my job didn’t match mypassion so I am creating one that does. So, without a doubt, by the timethis is read a brand new school for the arts and sciences will be under-way in a little obscure town in the southwestern United States. 30
  33. 33. JAMES ALTUCHER single class in college. I graduated in three years so as to avoid borrowing another $40,000 for a fourth year. But I needed a 3.0 grade point aver- age and I had a 2.999. I had to beg my Fortran professor to upgrade hisForgive, Forget, Succeed grade on me from D- to D+ so I could get the 3.0. Thank god he did or… nothing. Nobody’s ever even asked me if I’ve gotten a college degree. For I’m a bad son. That’s what started all I know I don’t even have one. I’ve certainly never seen it. this line of thinking. I was thinking, “What am I bad at?” and the first thing I’m not the best homeowner. I’ve owned twice. Both times it’s been a that occurred to me was I’m a bad miserable experience for me. Home owning is a scam. We have a trillion son. For the six months before my dollar banking industry that borrows money from you at 1% (your check- father had a stroke, I refused to speak ing account) and lends to you at 5% (your mortgage) so everything in to him. We were in an argument. After this country is geared towards hypnotizing you into thinking that owning he had his stroke. I’d visit. He’d some- a home is the American Dream. Otherwise trillions of dollars gets lost. times open his eyes. But he couldn’t Which is what happened in 2008 when the hypnosis wore off for awhile. speak. Three years looking at a ceiling. I pasted a chessboard to the ceiling I wasn’t the best boyfriend. Even from a tender age I would get jeal- but I don’t know if he ever really saw it. ous. I would sometimes be a little obsessive. Dating is a full time job. It’s When you feel guilty about something, all about making sure you aren’t spending energy in the wrong direction. sometimes you avoid thinking about it You have to have goals and every day work towards those goals. And so it doesn’t consume you. if anything deflects you from those goals, even for short-term gain, you have to avoid it.I haven’t always been the best father. When my kids were little I’dwork six days a week sometimes in the city and miss the whole week. I haven’t been the best brother. One of the last times I saw one ofMiss plays. Parent-teacher conferences.The whole thing. What was I so my sisters she hit me in the face and I fell to the ground on the corner offocused on? Who knows. It’s ancient history. But I still have time. Maybe 42nd and 5th. I’ll take this line out if she wants me to. But she had herI’ll make up for it. reasons. And she was much stronger than I thought she would be.The other day I dropped them off at school. And when you see these tiny I’m not the best writer. Most of my books have been flops. Probablylittle creatures with their own thoughts and feelings, trying to get comfort- because I hate writing about investing. Here’s the reality: most peopleable in their winter jackets and backpacks, going off into the brick school, should not buy stocks. Financial media is financial entertainment. If some-you get scared for them. Because being a little girl is a lot to have to deal one tells you you should buy a stock you should take that same moneywith and I can’t be inside their brains helping them through every step of and go on a nice vacation instead. As someone who has been involvedit. in every aspect of the financial media community for ten years I can tell you that most people have no clue what they are doing and should notI haven’t been the best employee. I’ve worked multiple jobs and busi- be listened to except in special circumstances. And everyone, no excep-nesses at the same time to make a good living. I’ve quit without notice. tions, should do their own research and due diligence before acting onI personally think that just about everyone would be happier if they es- any financial advice.caped their cubicles but I realize it’s a scary leap for many. But despite all of this, I want you to know that no matter what you’veI haven’t always been the best entrepreneur. By my last count, I’ve done, I forgive you.been a co-founder in twelve companies but with only about four goodexits. I’ve raised a lot of money. I’ve lost a lot of money. Every now andthen, though, I’ve made more than I’ve lost.I wasn’t the best college student. I don’t want to send my kids to col-lege. I think it’s an over-inflated waste. I can’t remember even attending a 31
  34. 34. of that is my musical equipment; instruments and performing and record- ing equipment. Giving up a fixed place of residence to travel frees mental and emotional energy. As a result I’ve found that I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m a philoso- pher. Every business I’ve started during the past decade has shared a common thread: it’s never been about the work to be done, but the reasons. Why people choose what they choose. Why they do things-or don’t. Why they work against their own judgment in order to please others. I’m fascinated by motivations, the “why” of choices. I’ve discovered that finding “why” makes “what” and “how” become clear. A good reason to act creates motivation. Realizing there is no good reason frees me to abandon pointless activities. Best Beloved and I still have to eat, and prefer to sleep indoors, so we still do the work we love doing for others. Rather than my business, though, I’ve changed my focus to finding “why” and helping others find it, too. This time, others seem less surprised-or maybe it’s just that it matters less to a nomadic philosopher.JOEL D CANFIELDYou Don’t Need PermissionSix months ago Best Beloved and I decided life would be better if weweren’t tied down, with a lot of stuff we didn’t need, yearning for a life oftravel.We’re happiest when we’re driving; music on, writing our next book,talking about life. It just stopped making sense to have a fixed place ofresidence. Despite the surprise of more orthodox friends, we gave noticeon the house we were renting and started emptying it.It wasn’t easy giving up all that stuff I’d been hanging onto. In the end,some of it went to a friend’s closet-but precious little. Besides a fewcases of books and vinyl LPs, we only own what fits in our minivan. Half 32